Monday, November 3, 2008
The California Yard Sign Wars
So, according to "a very, very good friend" of mine, not all marriages are in agreement as to how far one should go to fight for their beliefs.
Take, for example, the subject of Yard Signs. Or rather, the removal (?) of them.
Is this act always officially considered to be "foul play?" Even if the yard signs are mean lies?
Well, this was the subject of some debate for a "good friend" of mine last night.
According to my good friend, here's how her day went yesterday, on this very important final Sunday prior to the all important Election Tuesday.
At the encouragement of her family, my "friend," (let's call her "Emily") spent the afternoon at a rally for Debbie Cook (running for Congress in her area) and then she came home and did some online work blogging for her, after going door to door in her district handing out fliers where registered Democrats could find their polling spot...
Then, later on, post sunset, with her two school age kids in her van their (only momentarily criminal) mom did the unthinkable, she stole some"Yes on 8" signs. With her kids in the van. Cheering her on. In the dark. Inside their van from across the street.
Now, I happen to know "Emily" quite well, so I can vouch that her story is entirely true.
So, yesterday -- after weeks of staring at what seemed to be an endless parade of "Yes on 8" signs on just about every other lawn, this normally proper, well-behaved mom threw in her towel of propriety and found that in a few hours time "Emily" could accomplish a lot.
She found that in very little time she could...
A.) Remove and dispose of nine "Yes on 8" signs.
B) Put up two big cardboard "Debbie Cook For Congress" signs --
C) "Emily" was also able to put up three more big old "No on 8" signs and even had time to "re-position" some other formerly badly placed "No on 8" signs.
But, when "Emily" returned home, did her husband, (let's call him "Sam.") a fellow liberal Democrat, rejoice in her progress? Did he support her efforts to make the point that sometimes "you have to do what you have to do?" Was this what "John Adams" would say to his "Abigail?" Hardly.
In other words, did Emily get any high fives from her spouse for this? Nope. Not by a long shot.
The reality was that Emily came home exhausted after a long day of fighting for democracy only to be spoken to like a child who'd stolen candy from the dime store.
I just want to say, off the record, that I think Sam should have kept his Boy Scout mouth shut, since it was clear that "Emily" so didn't need to be lectured by a husband who, in point of fact, totally knew what she'd been doing, but once his wife verbally admitted to her sordid deeds (I think what she said was something like "I've been busy, you know, just hanging signs and stuff") suddenly decided to become Super Bad Cop.
"Just like him," I told her, on the phone, later, "to make a decision about something AFTER it matters. He always does that."
But, in spite of herself, "Emily" felt a certain amount of distance creep in regarding his lack of support at that moment. It wasn't the first time he'd enabled her behaving badly only to recount having done so later on. That's just wrong, she decided.
Surrounding herself with people who did this to her was a habit she said she'd finally decided she just had to break. She said it was getting old feeling betrayed out on a limbs she was sure someone somewhere said would be brave to venture out on.
"Emily" described that particular marital confrontation, last night, to me as something that went like this:
Sam: "I know what you were doing."
Emily: "Yeah, and so? I told you I had signs from the rally that I had to hang up and you knew I'd take down those other signs and you never said anything before I left."
Sam: "Well, you can go to jail for that!"
Emily: "But, I didn't, did I?"
Sam: "They can write your license number down."
Emily: "If they see me. But, I park across the street and pick moments when nobody is driving by. Look, I'm the one who's good at this, you're the one who's slow and conspicuous.
Sam: "And what will the kids think?"
Emily: "They were proud of me. They didn't want the people on Project Runway to be denied their rights. They know Prop 8 is wrong. What?! We teach them about Martin Luther King every year in school, and then not do something about civil rights when it matters? What kind of lesson is that? Besides, you knew I'd do this, tonight. You talked with me about it earlier today, so why wait till now when it's done to pretend it's wrong? You knew what I was doing."
Sam: "Well. It's just not what Obama would do."
Emily: "Well, I'm not Obama. I'm not running for President. I'm trying to help someone else run for President."
Emily: "You be Obama, okay? You can be Obama, and I'll be Bill Maher."
"Emily" didn't remind him of the night when they'd both high-fived over Bill Maher's comments a few months ago, that he'd be happy to send in a donation check to Obama along with a note written on it, "Now fight dirty."
"Emily" also didn't remind him of certain incident much earlier in their personal history when Sam was a team member on a certain journalistic project on which he'd won a certain amount of, well, journalistic acclaim which, actually, involved, let's just say -- having to behave (within the law, perhaps) but, no doubt, badly. He didn't complain about it then.
Who do you think was the one who wore socks and her dark pajamas one night, about a decade ago, to pull leaky a trash bag into the back of his own old Volvo station wagon?
Yeah. He didn't mind so much her behaving badly, back then.
"Emily" mulled over the way time had shaped their values.
And then, she called me.